Onboarding is the perfect opportunity for capturing our new employees’ hearts and minds. Don’t waste it.

Chances are that when starting a new job, we’ll experience all sorts of emotions: enthusiasm, excitement, and nervousness at the same time. Most likely, we can all relate somewhat to this, and one way or another, the onboarding process will help us calm those emotions while assisting us in learning our way around the company.

But first, what exactly do we expect from an onboarding program? According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM):

“New employee onboarding is the process of integrating a new employee with a company and its culture, as well as getting a new hire the tools and information needed to become a productive member of the team.”

Providing an integral onboarding program is an excellent way to ensure that recruits will have a consistent experience regarding their technical abilities as well as the working methodologies. This will directly impact the image we show to our clients and most likely reinforce the trust they lay in us.

LoopStudio has long subscribed to the idea of creating a unique and personalized experience for every newcomer, and has proven to help achieve higher productivity levels a lot faster than if they had to work it out on their own.

There’s no magic formula for landing a perfect process; it’s essential to tailor it upon our goals. Nonetheless, some key aspects can help us raise our game to the next level.

The power of first impressions

Landing a structured, well-organized, and integral onboarding process is vital. When not done ad hoc or left to the employee, they will most likely feel lost or unsure.

Whether they’re joining the LoopStudio family as a junior dev or as a seasoned professional, everyone is required to participate in a custom-tailored onboarding process, which will last about three months. During that time, we will walk them through our culture and values, as well as present them with different tutorials and challenges to acquire or reinforce their technical background. If they complete all the challenges and have proven themselves to be top performers and contributors, they will be officially called to join our crew.

Over that period, not only will the new hire be on a trial basis, but the organization as well.

According to the SHRM, employee turnover can be as much as 50% in the first 18 months of employment. This can be pricey, not only financially speaking, but also in matters of effort dedicated to carrying out the onboarding program. Therefore, it’s in all’s best interest to achieve a top-notch onboarding program.

First things first: planning

To land a killer onboarding, we should start by making a plan. What should we include in our strategy? That will differ according to our needs and our employees’ but one thing is for sure: the approach “one-size-fits-all” will not apply here.

At this point, we should focus on aspects like:

👉 Duration of the program — Whether it’s a couple of weeks or a couple of months, we should first establish this to elaborate on the strategy accordingly.

👉 Expectations — Do we expect the newcomer to learn everything from scratch? Do we expect them to be proactive? Or how about being collaborative? The plan should reflect all this.

👉 Follow-up process — Whether it’s a daily follow-up, or maybe weekly or so, we should set up a plan and try to stick to it.

👉 Formal evaluations — Apart from providing continuous feedback throughout the process, we should also include an instance to discuss the newcomer’s overall performance throughout the program. This could be an excellent opportunity to comment on the different milestones that were reached, and evaluate whether the achievements met the expectations.

Onboarding ≠ training

Although training plays an essential role in the onboarding process, its full scope does not reflect it. One can not exist without the other; therefore, they must complement one another to be effective. We should keep this in mind when planning our strategy.

Training covers the job’s technical aspects, best practices, and equipment; basically, the necessary elements to get the job done. Meanwhile, onboarding covers so much more than this; it’s about embracing the company culture, values, adopting the different work methodologies, and getting to know the rest of the team.

“The onboarding process doesn’t serve just as a learning stage for new team members to acquire the necessary knowledge when joining a project. Nor is it only the time allotted for them to demonstrate their skills and receive feedback for it. It is much more. It is the tool that enables us to effectively show newcomers what the different processes of our company are like, integrate them into our culture and make them feel they are part of the team. It is a bidirectional process; it is also an opportunity for mentors to receive feedback, develop new skills, and learn new things.” — Sofía Torres, Head of Talent.

Put learning into practice

As part of the training, newcomers should have mastered many new skills. Now, it’s time to put them into practice.

No matter how detailed the training was, it is always good to present the recruits with a final challenge to embody their skills, encouraging them to be proactive, collaborative, embrace the process, and, most importantly, have fun!

At LoopStudio, every newcomer takes part in an in-house project for about a month, give or take. Here, they get the chance to work together with other peers, put in practice the newly learned skills, and familiarize themselves with our way of doing things.

Learning goes both ways

Engagement requires dedication from both the newcomer and the organization as a whole. We can all learn from one another; old employees can contribute their experience, while new employees can contribute their fresh perspective.

A mentorship-style program can assist and reinforce training as well as encourage office relationships; this way, not only do we encourage newcomers to open up with questions and opinions regarding their work, but we can also allow older employees to develop in a new role such as mentoring.

From LoopStudios’ perspective, mentors are appointed based on their skills and previous talks with HR and Operations. Once they undergo this process and objectives are set, we make sure they have all the necessary support from their peers to perform in this task. After all, newcomers are not the only ones undergoing a new role.

Final thoughts

There’s no universal rule on how to land the perfect onboarding; for this, you’ll need patience, feedback, and tons of experimentation.

We can assure you one thing: an onboarding program that values how employees feel throughout the process as it does the technical aspects itself is one that will definitely succeed.